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Bugs – the myth origin of the Software Testing legend QA / Software Testing

Jul 06, 2023 JIN

Bugs – the myth origin of the Software Testing legend

Bugs refer to a defect, glitch, or error in machine operation, computer system, or software. There are endless replaceable terms for it; why do we keep calling it “Bug”? For the non-computer geeks out there, the term bugs might be picturing all sorts of insect species, not a malfunctioning computer faulty. Then why bug? The myth shall unfold right here today!

The bugs history

It all began back in September 1947, when an actual moth got trapped in the computer’s relays at Harvard University physically. It was the first-ever bug reported in world history. The term stuck around after that.

Although Thomas Edison initially mentioned the “bugs” concept in early 1878 in one of his engineering designs. The term was occasionally used during the mid-1800s and later became commonly used after the official “moth” incident, discovered by Grace Hopper – the computer scientist at the time. Due to the lab room with open doors one night, the moth found its way to nestle inside the computer box. The story was logged in her team’s logbook with the attached moth taped in and became famous, making the term bug catch on ever since. The logbook is now displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The first computer bug ever recorded found in the log book is now available on display for everyone to see at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Yes, the first computer bug was an actual bug. However, the argument on the history of the word “bug” wasn’t settled yet. Many stated that the term was shortened to Bugbear (or Bugaboo), which means a malicious spirit and was traced back to the fifteenth century, even way before Thomas Edison. Whichever the origin of the word bug might be, getting a computer system, software, or program to be bug-free is the ultimate goal of any developer aiming to minimize users’ frustration, and maximize customer satisfaction as well as productivity, though such things are not attainable.

How does a bug exist?

There isn’t a specific answer to this question; rather, it consists of various reasons why bugs exist in software. The main reason that accounts for such are:

#1 Miscommunication or no communication at all?

In software development, different teams and members are involved in the making. Everyone thoroughly understands the importance of an effective communication methodology while collaborating and engaging in a project. Many have underrated the power of communication, which often leads to stopping clarifying the messages that need to be conveyed; instead, they assume others might get it at some point. This is blandly insane; it would undoubtedly throw off the deadline, creating out-of-the-blue conflicts and misinterpretations.

The issues of misinterpretation of software requirements are somewhat over the top, as miscommunication can steer the software development onto a very different path; turning into unintended features and starting back again is not ideal. Wasting the team development time, creating unnecessary extra hours, and consequently unavoidably added costs. Establishing a decent communication strategy is bound before proceeding with the kick-off of any software development phase.

#2 Inexperienced

It might seem obvious that a lack of skill sets and expertise may prevent developers from building a particular feature correctly as it should. The same goes for the more complex the product is going to be, the harder for inexperienced developers to cope with. Therefore, if a part of the software development is outside your enterprise’s comfort zone, outsourcing to specialized third-party software development vendors is a much safer option. On that note, SHIFT ASIA, with a team of full-stack engineers, could provide software development and software testing consultancy services. Get fully covered and prepared for any challenges along your software development journey.

#3 Unrealistic Deadline

Rushing through the SDLC is never fun. It’s the temptation that all project managers have to somehow go through throughout their careers. That either comes from the superior management level or the over-confident within oneself, believing they can get products shipped out before the forecasted deadline. As the date draws close, skipping a few testing routines or bypassing a couple of testing techniques suddenly becomes “doable” or “acceptable.”

As Murphy’s law once stated: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” People can’t do the impossible, and one of them is being flawless. Software development takes time; any attempt to make it quick shall result in missing bugs and defects, ultimately sacrificing the user experience over the timeline. Forcing an impractical and irrational schedule on a software development team isn’t getting you any further down the line. Instead, it may hold you back from there on, waiting for you to return and resume the normal regime.

#4 Constant changing requirements

Your team might have everything laid out at the planning stage. If truth be told, change in requirements happens in almost every SDLC due to various reasons such as changing priorities within an organization accounting for 40%, changing project objectives making up 35%, and poor change management roughly around 25% of the most common causes of project failures, statistics gathered by Wrike. Other reasons related to requirements fluctuation are shifting market demand, organization changes in hierarchy and procedures, laws & regulations changes, etc.

The later it is in the development phase, the harder it gets to alternate a requirement, as one minor change might ripple into a cascading effect on the entire product management. A particular change that matters in milliseconds might result in 8 weeks of fixing work for developers. Such changes tend to be associated with other modifications later, causing delays and additional costs related to this particular.

#5 Quality Assurance Testing Deficiencies

Detecting bugs and defects is mainly the job of software quality tester. These testers shall collaborate with the software developers to have the products’ performances, functionality, and usability tested thoroughly before such product enters the market. Not having a good QA team with adequate domain knowledge of the core product has already disadvantaged product development. Consequently, resulting in bugs and malfunctions within the software itself are unavoidable.

This factor also plays the dominant role in determining how far off you are to the “bug-free” level. Just like how you have set 10 alarms to wake up early in the morning, but never forget to tell your mom or partner about your schedule to ensure you’re up at that time. As you know, the other person will have you ready by then. The same goes with QA! Though developers know better how to have their code all clean and standardized, humans are prone to make mistakes; missing a line, typos, tags, and brackets here and there are happening daily. Or you might be familiar with the terminology of these common bugs in their technical form, such as syntax errors, runtime errors, logic errors, and incorrect use of operator precedence. Software quality assurance is the other person who vows to track down these errors and push the developers to debug them, aiming for having the final products as flawless as possible.

How to get rid of bugs?

Getting zero bugs is almost impossible and unrealistic in this ever-evolving technology era. One can keep these bugs at a minimum acceptance level. That triggers gag reflexes within the developers and software quality assurance testers community. The effort to reduce bug counts is the continued progress of the software industry. It rounds up to the followings:

Development Methodology

Bugs and defects sometimes get harder to treat once they become pronounced and permanent. Since bugs often unfold into the discovery of other lurking bugs. To identify and classify premature bugs, software companies have switched their development approaches from a waterfall model to an Agile software development methodology, which helps generate customers’ feedback frequently as soon as changes are made, making debugging much smoother.
Consider setting up a unit testing procedure throughout the SDLC (software development life cycle) to capture critical bugs and defects and avoid rework later. Or, looking into test-driven development where all unit tests are written before the actual codes, the coding process is marked as done once all unit tests are completed successfully. Although this might not prevent all potential bugs, it keeps the bugs level in control.

Clear communication and sharing grounds in requirements

The bottleneck of management creates an invisible barrier in communication among team members and cross-functional teams. Encouraging open-communication company culture allows team members to voice their ideas and opinions on the misunderstandings in development requirements once they catch it. Highlighting use cases and scenarios that seem to be missed or not touched on in the testing phases. Assumptions that everyone has the same perception of the project’s vision and goal are not giving you transparency in the product development process but rather the prevention to allow your team to move forward.

Automation testing saves your soul

Everything automation is straight-up divine. Software testing isn’t an exception. Having an automated testing process in place saves you time, money, and a lot of resources, though it is costly to invest. We have discussed software automation testing in more detail in Software Testing Automation.

Software Testing Assurance at your baseline

Even if the software engineering industry strives to reduce the incidence of bugs, a bug-free situation is less likely to occur, as not all codes are good. Especially if you are about to release software commercially, thorough testing might take time. How long? – the question any product owners, stakeholders, and clients might have asked. It depends.
If testing was incorporated into the software development process, the testing duration might be the same as the product development timeline. Otherwise, testing can take much longer than the development process to meet the level of quality you’re initially aiming for; it might go beyond your release date and budget constraints. At a particular stage, you have to wiggle the right balance between time and the release date and make the sacrifice in either quality or financial.

Therefore, testing and development shall go hand in hand, side by side, instead of heading on separate paths in order to remove these “bugs” from your products. Knowing you have to get ahead of the game, a faster release is ideal. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution.” – Bermingham, Castleman & Pierce Inc. Achieving high-quality product release means an intense testing process to make sure no bugs are left unfixed. Unless you have a solid in-house QA team, outsourcing software test automation services is always available as a safer way out. Need assistance? Contact the SHIFT ASIA support team for more information.


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